Sunday, November 14, 2010

Look at the Loons

Another busy week ahead. I was so busy over the weekend that it was an absolute blur. I heard that I missed a great Aladdin, Jr. performance at West Genesee Middle School, and I hope to check out the video so I can share in their excitement. Also this weekend a few of our cross country runners participated in the New York State Cross-Country Championship. Seniors Billy Gabriel and John DeLallo represented us well, and Laura Leff (who I still think might be a machine disguised as a human) placed 4th out of 107 runners and is advancing to her second consecutive New York Federation Championship. Joining her will be the boys cross country team. All I can say is wow, and I suddenly don't feel as good about the four miles that I ran on Saturday morning.

If you had a chance to watch The Sopranos when it was on, Tony Soprano managed to find time to feed the ducks that were in his yard in spite of all the chaos that surrounded his life. I kind of felt that way over the weekend when I signed up to be part of Cornell University's Bird Watching Program. I get to watch the birds that come to my several feeders and send the count and species to Cornell scientists to study bird migration patterns. I only get about five to ten minutes a week to watch the feeder but for that time, time does stand still and I can certainly use that. I actually saw what I think was a small falcon on Saturday morning which was pretty cool to see.

Our Anti-Bullying Task Force is meeting again this Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. in the high school large group instruction room. When the meeting was scheduled, the District calendar was absolutely empty. Now we have a concert, a PTSO meeting, and a modified basketball game. I think that this is just a simple case where our committee is still new and has not found its place at the top of the pecking order. I know the boss and will work to make sure that our upcoming meetings are as conflict free as possible. I am looking forward to the meeting because we are going to be finalizing a survey instrument that we are going to administer to students regarding their thoughts on bullying. We are also going to hear a presentation about the Olweus Anti-Bullying Program which in all likelihood is going to represent the base from which we will make some adjustments based on our survey. The adjusted program will more than likely be what we invest in and use K-12 to not only meet the new bullying legislation called the Dignity for All Students Act but to also form how we change the culture at West Genesee related to bullying.

Every time I open an e-mail about the budget the news is not good. I am a big-picture thinker and can tell you that usually when I am presented with a challenge such as the budget, I usually find a solution when I am running, cooking, mowing the lawn, cleaning out the gutters, or some other non-work activity. I came up with some answers this weekend as well, but they are pretty profound. There is no way that we will be able to survive this budget environment without talking to our neighbors about consolidating services, sharing services, or regionalizing services. I will stop short of saying that we need to be thinking merger, but if you consider all of the negative budget conversations that are being had at the state, local, and federal levels, cutting a few people or even a program will not make a dent.  Besides we already did trim staff and programs which most of our neighbors did not do, and we are not in a position to make class sizes any larger or remove any more programs because we need a place for students to go from class to class. 

I have requested a meeting with all of our neighboring schools to discuss what we may need to do if a worst case scenario budget season is to happen. The fact that the new Governor is calling for the largest cuts to happen in health care and education, tells me that I have to be thinking out of the box and thinking big in order to keep up. It is also expected from the state that we should spend from our reserves to balance the budget. Great, we would last 1.4 years doing that, and our neighbors are no better off. Not an option. I am lucky to have a trusting staff, Board of Education, and community who are all willing to help to get us through this. As I learn more specifics about the budget I will certainly share.

Lastly, I wanted to mention that we expanded our breakfast offering to those families who receive free/reduced lunch. Our breakfast numbers have dramatically increased. Food and I go way back, and a good breakfast is very beneficial to having a good day. We have done a great, and confidential, job of helping those who need food to get food. If you are in need of this help, you can contact me directly or you can contact Debra Chenowyth (Food Service Director) at

Have a great week and I hope to write again before the weekend.